Miami 86 @ San Antonio 106
10 minutes, 4 fouls, 0-4 from the field, 1 rebound and 1 assist. Let's hear it for Antoine Walker!
You can divide the Heat into two groups. First, you have the players 30 years old and older. They simply no longer give a shit. Is this all that shocking? Shaq thinks he proved he's the reason Kobe won those three rings. He tanks the off season, gets "hurt" and then doesn't even bother traveling with the team. Payton and Mourning got the ring they were after and have convinced themselves it's not their fault this team sucks. "Oh, if only Shaq was healthy. Oh, if only we didn't have to play so many minutes." And Antoine Walker is doing everything he can not to cry.
The second group of players are all under 30 years of age. You got Dwyane Wade, a battler who doesn't quit, doesn't complain and always says the right thing. For now. This whole thing may blow up. Shaq may decide he's out for the year. Riley may quit midseason. Payton may "suffer" a career ending "injury." Mourning may decide it's not worth it anymore (and concerning his very real health concerns, who could blame him).
Of course the East is such a damned joke they will probably still make the playoffs. Hell, they have a -10.7 point differential, are 4-7 and are still tied for the last playoff spot. As of right now, there is only one team in the West (MEM) that wouldn't qualify for the playoffs if they switched conferences.
Miami managed to keep the game close for about 15 minutes. The Spurs blew the game open in the second quarter, when they outscored the Heat by 18. SA was led by the big three, who combined to shoot 23-39 and score 53 points in a total of only 67 minutes.
You got the feeling that either Parker or The Sickness could have gone for 30 tonight if they felt like it. At one point Parker burned Payton so badly that I actually laughed out loud. Even Timmeh got off the bench for some towel snapping action. Manu continued his, well, Manu-like play, efficiently dropping 17 on only 9 FGA, including a herky-jerky jaunt through the lane which culminated in an actual slam dunk!
Bowen played admirable defense on Wade, who, in his defense, got no help from anyone.
Tonight marked the Spurs debut for Jackie Butler, the 21 year old center stolen from the Knicks. Pop has decided a simple yet effective method for keeping the extras motivated and involved (taken from Mike Monroe's column):
"I've made it simple, so even I can understand it," Popovich said. "They're just going to alternate.
"I'm just trying to show them a little light at the end of the tunnel, so the same guys aren't sitting there every night. None of them are playing, so why not let someone get in a uniform? So if there's some garbage time or if somebody does get hurt or for some reason if a guy gets in, maybe he shows something."
Rookie guard James White, Popovich said, won't be in the rotation.
"He's too young," Popovich said, laughing. "He deserves no respect whatsoever."
Yes, Pop, Flight is young. But Williams is old and fat and can't dunk from the effing free throw line! Maybe the folks here at PtR can start a fund to buy out Williams' contract. I wonder if he'll take EFDs?
I was happy to see Butler get some time, but he looked pretty dreadful. First, he's still overweight by at least 10 pounds. Second, he was a zero on defense. He royally screwed up the first two pick and rolls he was involved in, sagging way too far back; though he seemed to correct this after a mandatory time out. He also didn't have his hands up and looked generally lethargic, even when his man had the ball.
On offense he showed a soft touch, though that might be a bit generous considering he didn't actually make a shot. He threw up a couple half hooks, though on one occasion he would have been better served drop stepping the other way.
One certainly shouldn't draw any conclusions from 12 minutes of a single game. And I am glad that's the case, because he looked like ass.
I don't know if this is actually true, but it seems like the games broadcast in HD also have much better sound. And when you have a surround sound system you can actually hear a lot of what coaches and players are saying. It makes for some entertaining moments. Towards the end of the third quarter the Spurs had the ball at the end of the court with the Heat's bench. From the corner Manu throws the ball to Horry on a diagonal cut. He attempts a touch pass to Elson but ends up throwing the ball directly out of bounds. Every player on the court starts running the other way. Horry starts gesturing to the Spurs bench, trying to explain why he threw the ball to no one. The ref, however, saw things differently. He thought a MIA player touched the ball and refused to, well, take the hint. This led to the following tongue lashing from Pat Riley:
Beautiful. Just beautiful.
Oh, in the biggest upset of the night, Pop actually outdressed Riley tonight. Shocking.
Record: 10-2 Streak: W-4
Next up: Friday Vs. Dallas